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1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B news, pictures, specifications, and information
Coachwork: Touring
Evolving from the successful 1936 8C 2900A, the 1938 2900B is the highly cultured son of the grand champion athlete. Hidden under the long and graceful hood lives an engine with a racing heritage. The 2900 cc straight eight cylinder supercharged masterpiece features dual camshafts, dual magnetos and dry sump oiling. Despite reduced compression compared to 2900A, it still produces an astounding 180 horsepower, delivered through a four-speed gearbox.

Two of Italy's finest designers provided appropriate coachwork for the 2900B, Carrozzeria Touring and Stabilimenti Farina. Only thirty examples were produced and each is somewhat unique.

This car is one of five coupes bodied by Touring. Delivered new in Italy, the car was raced prior to World War II. Postwar, Frank Griswold purchased the car and claimed the inaugural Seneca Cup at Watkins Glen. This race eventually became the United States Grand Prix. The current owner acquired the car in 1980 and undertook a four-year restoration. The car participates in rallies regularly in the United States and South Africa and has accumulated 40,000 kilometers since.
Coachwork: Touring
No sports car in the world of the thirties was faster than the immortal Two-Nine. That it was also the most elegant high performance automobile of its era is widely believed as well.

The 8C 2900B was built because Alfa Romeo wanted to continue dominating Italy's Mille Miglia race. It also needed a production car to replace the 8C 2300. The 2900 chassis wîth its supercharged 2905 cc, 180 bhp engine proved to satisfy both needs. Three cars were entered in the 1936 Mille Miglia and finished in order.

Only a handful of 2900Bs - not more than 30 - were produced from 1937-1939. Several of the long-wheelbase models were produced in 1938, including this car, which was exhibited at the Paris Automobile Salon that fall.

In 1947, dealer and sometimes racer Emillio Romano acquired the car to race in the Mille Miglia wîth co-driver Clemente Biondetti. Their victory represented the fourth for the Two-Nine, and the eleventh and last for the Alfa Romeo.

Source - Historical notes courtesy of The Collier Collection
Coachwork: Touring
The '8C' in this car's model name refers to the fact that the engine has eight cylinders. The straight-eight engine was designed by legendary engineer Vittorio Jano, and variants powered a wide range of Alfa Romeo racing and road cars from 1931 to 1939.

The '2900B' designation indicates that it was the second variation of the engine with 2900cc displacement.

This model was a forerunner of future Alfa Romeos. It featured 17-inch hydraulic brakes, fully independent suspension and a four-speed rear transaxle.

The engine is a dry sump design with twin magnetos and twin Roots-Type superchargers fed by two Weber carburetors, putting out 220 horsepower.

When it was built, the 8C 2900B was the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of 140 miles per hour. Not surprisingly, 8C 2900B's took first and second place in the 1938 Mille Miglia.

The 8C 2900B displayed here, with a body by Touring, was originally owned by the Maharaja of Indore, and spent 20 years in the Ralph Lauren collection before being purchased by the current owner.
Coachwork: Touring
Chassis Num: 412035
The 8C 2900B was Alfa Romeo's most prestigious grand touring car of the 1930s. Only 33 examples were ever completed for road use, and most were bodied by Carrozzeria Touring. The body on this car was unique; one of six privately commissioned Berlinettas, it was used in several advertisements by Alfa during the period. Based on the successful motor sports engineering of the 2900A, this road version of the 2900B featured a 180 bhp 8-cylinder engine with dual superchargers and twin overhead camshafts installed on a box-type chassis with all-around independent suspension. This car won the first Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1948, when it was owned and drive by Frank Griswold. It was more recently owned by David Cohen for 25 years; he used it in local rallies in East London, South Africa, before moving it to Vancouver, Canada.

The Alfa Romeo 8C2900B was an elegant blend of advanced styling and engineering. It was the most technically advanced and sophisticated sports car of its era. The men responsible for this model were engineer Vittorio Jano (designer of Alfa Romeo's P-Series Grand Prix racers and road-going sporting models) and body stylist Felice Bianchi Anderloni (founder of the coachbuilding firm Carrozzeria Touring in Milan). With the help of chief designer Aquino Gilardi, Anderloni helped pioneer Superleggera (super light) body construction. Instead of using heavy frames and rigid axles like so many other competitors, Alfa Romeo employed an intricate latticework of lightweight but rigid steel tubes that formed the framework for the elegant, hand-fashioned aluminum body shell. Shapes were tested by attaching felt strips to the body and the car was photographed while moving to record how wind flowed over and around it.

This Berlinetta (Italian for 'sports coupe') has a sharply raked windscreen, fastback roof, and teardrop-shaped rear fenders. In total, Alfa Romeo built just thirty 8C2900s on two wheelbase sizes. This car sits on the longer-wheelbase version (the long were known as 'lungo' while the short were 'corto') and has unusual bonnet-side louvers that extend into the cowl scuttle, extended front fenders, and distinctive slotted rear spots (fender skirts).

Powering this car is a slightly detuned 2.9-liter Alfa Romeo competition powerplant that has 16-valves, dual overhead cams, and a supercharged inline-8. It produces 180 horsepower in this form, while the competition motors were rated at 220 horsepower. The wheelbase measures 118 inches, top speed is achieved at around 115 mph, and there is a four-speed manual transaxle.
Coachwork: Touring
Chassis Num: 412022
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900s were at the forefront of engineering and streamlining in the late 1930s. This together with lightweight Superleggera body from Touring made the 8C one of the fastest and most sought after motorcars of its day. Despite appearing on their stand at the 1938 London Motorshow, the Brooklands-based Thompson and Taylor company first sold this car, the second spider built, in 1945. Over the years the car has been owned by many notable collectors including two Lords and several noted marque aficionados. Some have raced it and some have enjoyed its racing pedigree only on the road. After a test drive Alfa expert Ed McDonough said, 'It is the epitome of a vastly expensive and valuable collector's classic, but in its heart, it's a race car with a 70-year-old engine still zinging down the sweeping lanes.'
Coachwork: Touring
The high performance Berlinetta 8C 2900B is powered by a 2.9-liter 8C engine derived from the grand prix single-seat Tipo B from 1934. It has twin superchargers and suspension and brakes based on Alfa racing cars from 1935 to 1937. These were some of the fastest road-going car of its time. The Superleggera body by Touring of Milan is built in lightweight alloy over a latticework of small-diameter steel tubes assembled over the chassis. An 8C 2900B Lungo bodied by Touring won the 1947 Mille Miglia, driven by Romano and Biondetti, the last of the eleven wins at the Mille Miglia by Alfa Romeo.
Coachwork: Touring
The 8C-2900 Alfa Romeos were among the fastest production cars of their day. Powered by an 180HP DOHC 2905cc inline eight-cylinder supercharged engine, they were tough to beat on racing circuits throughout the world. Combined with a 'Superleggera' or super lightweight chassis from Touring of Milan, they were pretty much considered unstoppable by their contemporaries of the era. Cloaked in equally beautiful coachwork, these Alfas remain one of the most sought after cars in the world today as they were when new. Available in both short- and long-wheelbase versions and in a variety of bodystyles, records indicate that a total of 36 2.9-litre Alfas were produced from 1935-1939.

This car is one of five short-wheelbase (110-inch) versions built of which four are known to exist today. Other than having been repainted in 1950, it is totally unrestored and in original condition. As one of only five built, it has distinctive features expected on individually coachbuilt cars - side cowl vents for cockpit ventilation, large headlamp nacelles nestled in the catwalk between the fender and hood, a slightly narrower body, rear wheel spats, and sleek flush-mounted triple taillights on each side of the rear deck. Little is know of the car's history prior to WWII other than it spent time in Switzerland as evidenced by a pre-war 'Kanton-Bern' registration tag on its firewall. It became a part of the current owner's collection in 1986.
Lungo Roadster
Coachwork: Touring
Derived from the 1936 8C 2900A, the 1938 2900B is the refined offspring of a grand champion. Under the long and elegant hood is an engine with a racing heritage, the supercharged 2.9 liter straight eight with dual camshafts, dual magnetos and dry sump oiling. It produces 180 horsepower through a four-speed gearbox. On the track, the 2900 competition cars became the most successful of their time, testament to Alfa's racing experience. A trio of 2900As placed first-second-third at the 1936 Mille Miglia, while three more achieved the same results in 1938.

Carrozzeria Touring, one of Italy's finest coach builders provided most of the bodies for the 2900B. Just 30 examples were produced; each somewhat unique. After producing six Spyder bodies on the shorter Corto chassis, Touring produced another set of Spyders on the longer Lungo chassis. The Spyder was particularly graceful in silhouette, longer and decidedly more elegant than the shorter Corto. A soft top was provided, but didn't offer any side-window protection except for chassis 412023 which had full-size side windows. Just seven Lungo Spyders were built.

The 2900 chassis was prepared similar to the competition cars with twin trailing arms up front and swing-arm suspension in the rear with both friction and hydraulic shocks. The engine was similar to the Tipo B unit but made from new castings in aluminum instead of magnesium.
Coachwork: Touring
The 8C 2900 was built in two series, the racing 2900A and the road-going 2900B. In May of 1938 Touring delivered the first of their Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Long Wheelbase Lungo Spiders. These early 2900A supercars were capable of matching most other cars on the racing circuit and many of the 2900B models were also raced. Touring-bodied Alfa Romeos were first to see the checkered flag at the Mille Miglia in 1938 when a 2900B Spider and a 2900B Berlinetta won in 1947, both driven by Clemente Biondetti.

This car is the 4th 2900B Lungo to be bodied by Touring and was delivered to its first owner in England through Alfa's British importer, Thompson & Taylor of Brooklands. After the war it was brought to the United States and was owned for a time by Luigi Chinetti.
Vittorio Jano was responsible for the design of the magnificent engineering marvel, the 8C 2300. The name was formed by following Alfa Romeo's naming convention; the 8C represented the eight cylinder engine while the 2300 represented the cubic-capacity. The engine is comprised of two four-cylinder engine with the cylinders aligned in a row. Central gearing drives the overhead twin camshafts. A Roots-type supercharger was used to force air to the carburetor aiding in the production of 140 horsepower. Further modifications to the OHV engine increased the horsepower output to nearly 180.

The first 8C 2300 made an appearance in prototype form at the 1931 Mille Miglia. Two Grand Prix 8C 2300 models were later entered in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza where they finished first and second. In honor of this achievement, Alfa Romeo used the name 'Monza' on all their 8C 2300 Grand Prix vehicles. In 1932 the 8C 2300 became a dominant force, winning at Targa Florio followed by three consecutive victories at Le Mans. It was undefeated at the Grand Prix circuit, defeating the powerful Mercedes SSK and SSKL models and brining an end to their dominance. It achieved many prestigious victories such as the Spa 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix and more. Compliments of the vehicles capabilities and durability.

The 8C 2300 was available in a wide variety of body styles including short and long wheel-based chassis. The long wheelbase was dubbed 'Lungo' while the short-wheelbase were 'Corto'. The Lungo models were suitable for traveling on the open roads at high speeds while the Corto models were smaller, lighter, and more agile, suitable for racing, many being prepared by Scuderia Ferrari. The Lungo series produced 140 horsepower with a 4.25 final drive. The Spider Corsas often featured a 165 horsepower engine built specifically to satisfy customer specifications. A 3.76:1 or 4.08:1 final drive was left to the customer to select.

As was customary at the time, many of the automobiles were supplied to custom coachbuilders such as Pininfarina, Figoni, Touring, Castagna, and Zagato. The results were uniquely designed and eloquently outfitted automobiles that were as much works of art as they were high performance machines.

The 8C 2300 was produced from 1931 through 1933. During their production life span only 188 examples were produced. By today's standards, many 8C 2300 models easily sell for over a million dollars.

8C 35
The Alfa Romeo 8C-35 was a Scuderia Ferrari works car which raced at Monza, Modena, Nurburgring, Lucca, Monaco and more. They were driven by famous drivers such as Dreyfus, Farina, Brivio, and Nuvolari.

One of the most historical races for the 8C-35 was at Coppa Cieno. Nuvolari's Alfa Romeo Tipo C 12C-36 suffered a broken transaxle after only two laps. He ran to the pits and got into an 8C-35. By the time Nuvolari re-entered the race, he was already seven laps down. By the time the race concluded, Nuvolari was in first place.

8C 2900
The 8C 2900 was built in two series, the 2900A and the 2900B. The 8C represented the engine size, a straight eight powerplant while the 2900 represented the size of the engine, 2905 cc. The engine was created by mounting two four-cylinder alloy blocks on a single crankcase. With the twin Roots-type superchargers attached, the 2.9-liter engine could produce between 180 hp for the 8C 2900B and 220 hp for the 8C 2900A. The suspension was all-independent with wishbones in the front and the rear had swing-axles.

The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A was a two-seater with Grand Prix style bodywork. They were purpose-built to race and win at Italy's famous Mille Miglia. In 1936, three examples were entered and were able to capture a first through third finish. A year later, they repeated their success again capturing the top three places. The success of the 2900A spawned the decision to create a road-going version that Alfa Romeo could supply to its customers. The 8C 2900B models were built upon two different wheelbases and had bodies that were very aerodynamic. Similar to the 2900A mechanically, the 2900B models were given a de-tuned engine that produced 40 horsepower less than the 2900A but still fast enough to be claimed the fastest production vehicle in the world with a top speed of nearly 110 mph. The Corto were short 2800mm wheelbase version while the Lungo were the long 3000 mm wheelbase versions. As was customary at the time, custom coachbuilders were often tasked with building the bodies. The 2900B had most of its coachwork handled by Touring of Italy. The vehicles could be purchased in Berlinetta, Roadster or Spyder bodies. These supercars were not only fast but they were expensive too. Since they were mechanically capable to match most vehicles on the racing circuit, many of the 2900B models were raced. Alfa Romeo constructed 13 examples of the 8C 2900B but with the 220 hp engine and most with Roadster bodies. In 1938 and in 1947, the 2900B with the 220 hp engine were able to capture the checkered flag at the Mille Miglia.

During its production lifespan, only 41 examples were produced. Three wee type 8C 2900 A with the remaining being the type B.

8C 2900B Spyder
Evolving from the successful 1936 8C 2900A, the 2900B is the highly cultured son of the grand champion athlete. Hidden under the long and graceful hood lives an engine with a racing heritage. The 2900 cc straight eight cylinder supercharged masterpiece features dual camshafts, dual magnetos and dry sump oiling. Despite reduced compression compared to 2900A, it still produces an astounding 180 horsepower, delivered through a four-speed gearbox.

Two of Italy's finest designers provided appropriate coachwork for the 2900B, Carrozzeria Touring and Stabilimenti Farina. Only thirty examples were produced and each is somewhat unique.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2006
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